These first days of November feel very peaceful in the orchard. The early morning seems to blend right into the late afternoon and midday starts to seem like a distant summer memory. Reaching into the flaxen leaves to pick an apple, I know not whether to treasure more highly the leaves which will tomorrow turn brown, or the apple which almost seems to fall into my hand as I grasp it.
"When the apple is ripe it will fall." -- Irish proverb
Its amazing to me sometimes how quickly the light changes this time of year. Not just the length of the day, but the quality of the light. It seems as the days grow shorter the shadows longer and the light more golden. The past week has felt very fleeting as many of the remaining leaves have fallen off of the trees. Many of the apple trees have also begun to turn a burnt golden, creating a great contrast with the dark reds and purples of the apples remaining among their branches. Those apples that somehow hid behind the leaves in September can no longer camouflage themselves among the leaves that now so exquisitely compliment their hue. Below many of the apple trees lies a blanket of overripe apples, which can make picking difficult. Scrambling between trees with a half full picking bucket while walking on a layer of partially decomposing apples is like trying to keep your balance on marbles. The pungent smell of vinegar wafts up occasionally greeting your nose with an odor that provides a gentle reminder of the cyclic nature of life. When you go to dump your apples into the bin you often discover that the number of leaves that have fallen into your bag often out numbers the apples.
I have never picked into November before. The long rays of the sun have begun to remind me too closely of a crisp December day and the temperature at dusk too closely mimics that of a winter evening. All of the crab apple trees that are planted for pollination in among the Empires have lost almost all their leaves. While a golden carpet surrounds their trunks, the crab apples themselves still cling to the branches, their red clusters stark against the brown branches of the tree, which reach out, almost begging for the first snow to cover them.
There is only a few more days of picking and the word in the orchard is that they may run out of bins before they run out of apples to put in them; the consequence of a good crop. It gets dark at five now and the walk home in the dusk is often filled with the sent of wood smoke. It feels good to be part of the last days of harvests, there is something very rewarding about getting in the last of the fruit. There is also something very lonely, almost haunting however about seeing all the empty trees around you. There is a comfort however in remembering the fruit they once bore, for it is a reminder of what is to come.